The weakness of the Redskins team that requires the most immediate fix is the Defensive Line. With many of the free agent backups acquired last year not working out to become starter quality material, the tackle position is the weakest on the team. Noble’s future is in question due to his rehab being so long and difficult. Haley, Dalton, Chase and Russell did not step up to provide run stopping or any inside pocket push on a consistent basis and often ended up in the linebacker’s laps when the opponents ran the ball. Fortunately there is a large crop of quality tackles in the free agent market who are proven, not expensive and can make an immediate impact. Without an improvement here, with or without Champ Bailey, there will be little to no improvement on the defensive side of the ball.
The second most glaring issue would be the replacement of Champ Bailey if he is traded. This will be easier with the large crop of free agents available. This also allows the Skins to address the depth issue with free agents rather than picking up untested rookies in the draft.
The third need would have the Skins looking for a monster at the Defensive End position. With a combination of two effective tackles, Regan Upshaw could still prove to be a starter, and Renaldo Wynn actually was quite serviceable stopping the run all year. The problem simply is that there is no one to put the fear of imminent danger into an opposing quarterback’s heart at the DE position. There has been some speculation around a couple of free agent ends that can be acquired, but their cost may be too high. There are fewer quality defensive ends in the free agent market with lower price tags, so this may very well be addressed in the draft, especially if the Skins receive a second first round pick.
Tight ends would be the fourth need, as a Gibbs driven offense requires two blocking tight ends who can manage to catch the ball, a la Didier and Warren. This position can be addressed via the draft with several very large tight ends available who are proven pass catchers. The current crop of tight ends would not be graded out well by anyone’s imagination, so expect that other than Royal getting one last possible chance due to his injuries, most tight ends will be out of the picture.
A quality running back is also a concern that the Skins have, both of which could be addressed with a good class coming out of the draft. With some of the backs seeing their stock slip due to lack of playing time or rotating carousels where they played, there is a good possibility of a later pick being used to get a back for the future. Also, there are a number of free agent possibilities on the market that can step in with proven abilities.